Rachel Makes ^ Poofy Ottoman Cube

A while back I got a request from some friends to make them one of those ottoman poufs. They weren’t finding anything they liked in the stores for a reasonable price and I decided to give it a go. My sewing skills are okay; they’d be a lot better if I sewed more often. Isn’t that the case with everything? “I’d be so good at [insert craft, trade, task, etc here] if I just did it more often.” Sigh…mediocrity with most, expertise with none.

finished pouf ^ brettandrachelplus

Photo courtesy of Ben Bylsma.

Basically it is a giant cube with a zipper on one of the seams. If you’re up to getting an idea of how I made it, read on, brave soul.

The first thing I did was to measure, cut and iron my pieces. I needed the pouf to be 2’x2′ in size, and I gave myself a 1/2 inch seam allowance on each, so I cut out 26 inch squares. Make yourself a good ol’ isosceles right triangle by folding your fabric over with sides a and b being equal length. (My engineering degree at work over here. Or maybe just high school geometry. Either way, a real world math application!) Cut along those sides and you’ve got yourself a square. Use that as the template for the others.

I had done zippers before, but it had been a while. All in all, it isn’t hard, just requires some planning. The tutorial I used I ended up not being a big fan of, but since I’m lazy, I didn’t want to rip out the seams and try again on the zipper. It turned out just fine, though, but I needed to have given myself a bigger seam allowance on the zipper. I didn’t catch the folded over fabric and had to sew it down separately in places.

After the zipper was in, I sewed the other two squares onto the ones with the zipper to make a cylinder.

Then I pinned and sewed the bottom square on and then the top. Make sure that you’ve unzipped at least part of the zipper so you can turn it right side out easily.

I’m pleased with how it turned out. It has been filled with beanbag stuffing and looks pretty nice. Since it will hold 8 cubic feet of material, you could even use it for storing stuff that could double as a filler. I fit a comforter and several pillows in it and still had a lot of room in it.


Art Party Studio!

There’s an awesome little place in the Lincoln Square Mall called The Art Party Studio. You’ve probably seen something similar where you live. You find a painting you want to paint from their calendar, sign up for it, then paint it! Super fun!

  Art party ^ brettandrachelplus 

I went with my LTG group from church last Tuesday and we had a blast! (LTG stands for Life Transformation Group. More about that here!) We painted an adorable pumpkin. That way it doesn’t have to be displayed year round.

After you check in, you find your seat. It has your canvas, paint, brushes, and water all ready to go. Once it starts, the instructor shows you what to do step by step. At the end of two hours, you have a pumpkin!

 pumpkin painting! ^ brettandrachelplus 

It was a lot of fun to paint something and I felt like I was in art class. I haven’t been in art class since junior high. I really wish I could have taken more art classes in high school and college. But I didn’t in high school because I took stuff like chemistry, calculus, and physics (dangit, math and science and preparing for engineering. . .) I didn’t take any in college because of my schedule chock full of ECE classes, more math, and other fun. Plus, you’re kind of limited on what art classes you can even take if you aren’t an art major. (Something I think that should be changed! If I want to take an elective drawing, pottery, photography class, I should be able to take one, dag-nabbit! I guess there’s always those community classes at Parkland. . .)

 pumpkin painting ^ brettandrachelplus 

Some tips for maximizing your fun while painting:

  • Do not be anal about getting everything ‘just so.’ You’ve got to complete your painting in under two hours. You’ll just get frustrated.
  • Treat yo’ self! Bring yourself a snacky snack and a drinky drink to enjoy whilst painting.
  • Don’t worry if your painting isn’t turning out exactly like the example one. You’re painting it, of course it will look different. Enjoy the differences!
  • Go with friends!

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Creamer ^ The Best Thing EVARR!

homemade pumpkin spice creamer ^ rachel cooks brettandrachelplus
So it is Pumpkin Spice everything right now. And you know you love it. Even those fussy, “I’m not going to eat anything pumpkin spice flavored because everyone is right now, and I want to make people think I’m so different and original, but I secretly love pumpkin spice and every day I don’t eat it to make a point, I get sadder and more bitter at life” kind of people. And so like anyone who is true and authentic to themselves, those who want to appear original with minimal effort (ho ho ho…), I went on Pinterest (last year) to find myself a homemade pumpkin spice creamer. Because, you know, that’s how you do.

PSL Pinterest ^ homemade pumpkin spice creamer brettandrachelplus

I like the suggestions given to refine your search. #nailedit

My story begins there. Last year. Oh, if only I could go back and warn myself. Of the deliciousness. Sweet, sweet, pumpkin spice deliciousness. Golly gee, it was so rich, creamy, sweet, pumpkin-y, spice-y. I did not want to share. So I didn’t.

The recipe made a bit more than a mason jar worth and I naively brought that whole mason jar to work. Because what could be better than a whole jar of homemade pumpkin spice creamer at work?! It was pumpkin spice heaven. For most of the morning. After about 3 cups of coffee and approximately one third to one half of the jar later, I was wired like none other. I’m guessing it was due to the fall spirit it puts you in. I really needed to go to a bonfire right then, but I was at work and I didn’t think accounting would have appreciated me burning papers to get my bonfire fix. Needless to say, I had a massive crash in the afternoon and decided I needed to stop drinking that sweet, sweet elixir.

pumpkin spice creamer ^ rachel cooks at brettandrachelplus

This year was different. Learning from past mistakes, I divided the creamer into four smaller mason jars and gave three of them away to those in my LTG. I also did not take it to work with me, but I did put some in my morning, going to work coffee.

If you’re interested in partaking in this deliciousness, please indulge your eyes and keep reading!

pumpkin spice creamer ^ rachel cooks at brettandrachelplus

I think there’s a rule that you’re obligated to stand next to a mum and a pumpkin or two while drinking your pumpkin spice coffee.

Pumpkin Spice Creamer

  • 1 1/2 cup half and half, divided
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup pure pumpkin
  • 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk

In a medium saucepan, whisk together 1/2 cup half and half, the spices, and pumpkin puree. Simmer over a low heat 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.

When cooled, whisk in the remaining half and half and sweetened condensed milk. Pour into mason jars.

Keeps up to a week in the refrigerator. SHAKE IT before using.

Try not to drink it all up at once.

(recipe adapted from shugarysweets.com)

Mason Jar Cozy ^ A Crochet Craft

A few weeks ago, I got a request to make a mason jar cozy for our good ol’ friends the Kappers. Well, just Aaron. He has been eyeing Briana’s cozy and I offered to make one for him. You should check out the design work they do because it is awesome! Briana’s work and Their Instagram.

It’s super simple to make and doesn’t really require any fancy knowledge of crochet. What you do is pick a fun yarn (or two). I really like using Lily’s Sugar and Cream yarns because they are 100% cotton and just feel so much better than acrylic yarn. I think I used an I or J hook? I don’t remember, but usually if you look on the side of the yarn and they give you the guage, just use that sized hook.

I’m going to give you the gist of what I did. My tutorial skills aren’t that awesome, but if you know a bit about crochet, you’ll be able to figure it out. For the colors, I used bright navy and hot green.

What I did was start off using that magic circle you’ve heard so much about. Then start crocheting in the round to make a circle motif until it is as big as the bottom of the mason jar. Stop making the increases for the circle and just go to town making the tube. Change out your color whenever you want, then back if you want. Make it as tall as you’d like, weave the end in, and you’re good to go. For the taller mason jars, go 6 inches.

mason jar cozy ^ brettandrachelplus

Turned out pretty cute, didn’t it? I was able to finish it in an evening and it used up less than a ball of the sugar and cream yarn, so it’s also a pretty cheap craft, too. 

mason jar cozy ^ brettandrachelplus